Friday, October 18, 2013

Following Your Heart

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.” 

My daughter would have been eleven today, if she were born CHD free.  While the years pass by, the loss never lessens, it just changes, evolves, and becomes a part of who you are.

I learned a lot being Briona's mother.  I learned what it REALLY means to be strong, to speak up, to question, and to fight.  I also learned that while we like to fancy ourselves as in control of our own destiny, we truly are not.  Everything happens for a reason.

I had a physical today.  I scheduled it months ago and forgot about it, but when I got the reminder call and the date OCTOBER 18th glared at me from my calendar, I was glad it was the first opening they had.  Birthdays are always the hardest for me.  

I often think about what my daughter would be like if she were here today, and how she would choose to celebrate.  I knew a heart family that got a transplant, and every year on his "transplant day" they would get heart shaped doughnuts and give them away to whomever he felt like giving them to.  People he knew and loved, and random strangers.  I always thought it was a great tradition.  I guess I was thinking about Briona and doughnuts... so I decided to bring my friends at my "old" school treats today.

I wasn't planning on seeing any children, but they saw me.  One of my kids from last year saw me in the hallway.   She hugged my leg, and just kept staring as her eyes welled up with tears, and then she hugged me and asked me to walk her to her locker.  When she could finally speak, she asked me, "Where did you go?  I miss you every day."  I'm not sure how you explain to a six year old the politics that were involved with the merger of Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Community Schools, nor do I think I would even want to tarnish her still rosy eyed view of the world, so I just explained that I work in another building now because "that is where my boss wanted me".  I figured that is as close to the truth as I could get!  She held my hand as we walked to her locker upstairs, and as I walked through the familiar hallways tears welled up in my own eyes.  Children from my former classes seemed to pop out of every doorway and hugged me enthusiastically, and joyfully all while asking, "Mrs. Boyer?!  Why aren't you in your classroom?  I keep looking for you!"   I even got invited to a wedding!  (Congratulations Joi's mommy!!)  Another student burst into tears upon seeing me, and as I hugged her like our lives depended on it, I knew that today I brought Perry doughnuts for a reason.  I needed some hugs, and there were some of my former students and colleagues that needed them as well.  

A parent who observed these going ons stopped me in the hallway and wondered how on Earth I could ever have been told maybe.  As part of my moving on, I try not to be bitter, and could answer earnestly that I believe it was not my inability to reach children, it was simply politics, and I was caught in the crossfire.  As the union president for a semester I did and said what I believed had to be done at the time, and as a result paid the price.  Everything happens for a reason.

That being said, while I miss my friends and the students at Perry, I have found a new home.  I am very happy to be in my new district, in my new classroom, with my amazing students.  As I tend to do, I have befriended a few wayward souls, and find joy in watching my students learn, dream, encourage one another, and laugh.  I have found students who need me, just as much as I need them.  My new school, while qualifying as "high poverty" is in a currently fiscally healthy district.   It's been eye opening and at times awe inspiring to realize the differences, and mourn the inequities.  While the drive is a drag, it gives me alone time to think, process and plan.  At times I have a bit of survivor's guilt as I look into the eyes, and listen to the stories of my former colleagues. 

I miss you all, but I am happy to have moved on.  I am in a good place, and there are no more tears. 

Sometimes I swear I can hear Briona whispering the same thing.  

God is good.  All the time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

William's Post

I was at a friend's house recently dropping of some Scentsy.  (Want to have a party?)

She has the sweetest little family ever, and is the June Cleaver of the twenty-first century, which is made all the more remarkable by the fact that three of her four children have been diagnosed with Autism.  You can read more about her life here at her blog  She's amazing.... and thin... but I like her anyway.  Now SHE could have a reality show and be educational and entertaining... plus she said I could guest star once in awhile.  =)

I have had the HONOR of being her oldest two children's teacher, and she is not only a former parent, but a friend.  Her youngest son William was at my school last year.  He's adorable, smart, and feisty.  Not to mention, not all that verbal (yet).   I was really looking forward to having him in my class this year.

So like I said, I was at her house delivering her husband's "purple wax" (let me know if YOU need some wax)  and William was quite happy to see me.  He invited me to play outside, and ride a bike, all while smiling at me, and making GREAT eye contact!  I complimented him on his using words and he told me "use words to play outside".  We high fived.

I had been having one of those low days that comes with job searching and waiting on phone calls (I refuse to go into further detail lest this post get very bleak...) William was my breath of fresh air.  I know he is not likely to read this, (he probably could if he wanted to) and he may not understand all the emotions tied up in his actions, but he gave me hope again.

I just want to thank him.  Here, and now, for inspiring me.

William, as I was getting ready to leave you had toys in your hand, and we were outside.  I was near my car on the sidewalk.  You put your toys on the porch and looked at me, and hesitated.  Your mommy asked if you were going to go with me, and you simply said "no", but you kept looking at me.  In that moment, I knelt down, and asked if you'd like to give me a hug.  You came running towards me and gave me the best sideways hug I have ever had.  Complete with a back pat.  You made my heart skip a beat, and my mind start racing, and a smile appeared that had been missing for a long time.

That simple act of trust forced my hand into doing something that I have wanted to do for awhile, but always found an excuse not to.  I am going to go back to school and get my Masters in Special Education with an Autism Endorsement.  I will have my work cut out for me, and I don't think I will be able to start until January because of my financial aid needing, but I will be back in school because of a hug from you.  Thank you William.  You are A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

God is good.  All the time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Because I read my last two posts and wanted to jump off a cliff.....

Times have been admittedly tough, but last night I read my blog again and then I couldn't sleep.  It was too depressing.  My situation is depressing, and I will admit that I am struggling with things right now, but I don't want to be known as the female blog equivalent of Lurch. 

^^^^THIS IS NOT ME^^^^

 My spirit is a little wounded, but I still in there, and I am not going anywhere.  I am just hiding in a deep dark cave in my head.  I'll be back.  I promise.  

Here are some things I was thinking about last night while I couldn't sleep after reading my depressing blog... and I was thinking of things people keep saying to me... and how sometimes those things are just weird.  

1.  I was wishing I would win the lottery, and imagining all the GOOD things I would do when I thought, why do people say "If wishes were fishes?"  or do I have that saying wrong?  What good would wishes being fishes be?  That seems rather unfulfilling, and kind of gross.  What is the REST of the saying?    It reminded me of the All State commerical where the guy says, "That's All State's Stand."  For THE LONGEST TIME I thought the guy was saying "That's All State, Stan" as in a guy named Stan.... it didn't really phase me, until one night I asked my husband, "Why do they call everyone Stan in these commercials?  That doesn't make me want to buy insurance..."  Brian looked at me with a strange look then told me that they guy was saying "That's All State's Stand"  not "Stan"  then he laughed at me.... quite a bit, and now every time we see an All State commercial he calls me "Stan".  He is hilarious.... (not really)   

2.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  To this I say keep your bird in the bushes PLEASE.  I am terrified of birds.  They have very beady bird eyes and I am certain that they are just waiting for the opportunity to peck MY eyes out, or poop on my car... or me!  The cause of my fear may have been premature exposure to Albert Hitchcock's The Birds, or common sense... but I do not like birds.  Even a little.  

3.  'Well, it could be worse."  This is always very uplifting thing to hear.   You are right.  It could be worse, but that doesn't really make it any better.  I suppose on top of us both being laid off we could be struck with the bubonic plague, or a freak storm could suck us up in a tornado and we would have to carve our way out of a shark with a chainsaw... that WOULD be worse... but knowing that we could just add those things to our situation doesn't make it any better.  

4. "Did you apply for that job in ________________"  Yes.  Yes I did.  I am thoroughly aware that NOT applying for jobs will make it exponentially more difficult to get a new one.  I have applied, thank you for keeping me on my toes.  

5.  I wish I could be a minion. Okay, nobody says,  "Hey have you considered being a minion?"  (Well besides my friend Danielle and she lives far away.)  It's just something I have been thinking about, and it was getting really late.   Minions are always happy, and six kids ago I could totally rock a french maid outfit,  They are always so friendly, and yellow, and have the ability to just laugh off even the worst situations!  Even when they are evil they are such a nice shade of purple....  

I would be an adorable minion, then I realized that they are all named Doug and Steve and Kevin, and thought maybe girls were not allowed to BE minions... which would be totally unfair, but you know what they say, "Life's not fair.  Deal with it."

So, while I don't know about that job, I'll keep applying.  Even thought I can't be a minion, I will keep telling myself that it could be worse, try to get a bird in my hand (eww), and keep a positive outlook.  Something better is sure to come along soon.  Right Stan?

God is good.  All the time.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Living the American Nightmare

There are times in life when you just have to sit back and wonder if perhaps in a former life that you don't recall you did something UTTERLY horrible and Karma is coming back to bite you in the a**.   A month ago I was in Hawaii.  On a FREE trip!  Best. Trip. Ever!  I am starting to think maybe I accidentally touched a sea turtle.  

Karma is nipping at my heels, and it's not the good kind either.   I can't help but wonder if some poor turtle is at the turtle oncologist waiting to find out about his flipper cancer from my sunscreen.  (Sorry turtle!)  Either that, or it's just another bump in my crazy life.

However,  this is NOT a feel sorry for myself post (good grief, I'd lose my 13 followers!) it's actually a post about all the GREAT things I am sure are in store, and a way to count my blessings.

I came back from my Scentsy Family Reunion in Indianapolis to find out the my awesome, strong, brave and hardworking husband has also been laid off.  To put it nicely, that leave us up a very stinky creek without a paddle.  We have a house payment, two car payments, a ginormous student loan payment, a slew of credit card bills, and five kids to feed... all on our unemployment.  Being a middle class on a good day type of family we were getting by.  I guess technically it was a version of the American Dream.  We had what we needed, and a little extra thanks to credit cards, and payment plans.    Now we are getting a little scared.  A friend of mine said, nobody knows WHAT to say, because we are living everybody's worst fear, it's the "American Nightmare" and it's true.  We are scared to death, and hoping and praying that good things happen in time enough to make it all work out.  I guess this total lack of security has inspired me to write about all the things I DO have, as counting my blessings is free, and that's about all I can afford right now.

Here is my list of awesome things that I am thankful for, in no particular order.

1.)  My awesome husband.  He may be grumpy at times, and he may swear a lot, and he might not be at every single event that my kids are involved in, but he loves us.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt I know that he is my soul mate, and would do anything he could to keep us all safe.  I am so grateful for his friendship, his ability to see me as sexy (he might need glasses) and his unwavering commitment to me and our family.

2) Speaking of my family I am blessed to have some of the most awesome kids around.  From my sweet, quiet hard working farm boy Noah, to my rock star pitcher Ricky, to my social butterfly Matthew, to my shy animal lover Clara, to my baby diva Ruby.  I am so lucky that they are all quite content in life.  Sure they ask for things, and sure they want things, and to go places, but with a simple "We don't have the money right now" they let it go.  No pouting, no tantrums, no complaining about how their parents are awful and mean, or that everybody else has (insert coveted item here).  They have taken the change with no questions, just trusting that we will continue to take care of them, and love them just like we always have.  While at times they make me want to pull my hair out and hide in a dark cave, they are also the loves of my life.  We will continue working to make sure that they get a little further ahead in life than we have been able to.  Or at least get there a little easier.  To be able to parent such a smart, funny, loud, giggling, polite, and entertaining group of humans is a blessing.  They also are totally content with noodles with butter on them and cereal to eat... yay for Ramen noodles.

3)  Then there are my friends to be thankful for.  From the Scentsy sister who managed to get my resume to the superintendent of my DREAM DISTRICT, to my Wingman, my super friend, to my baseball family, my soul sister, my girls who make me laugh, let me cry, dance, or make up words to songs and love me just the same.  Old friends and new, my life is so much better because of all of you.  Thank you for supporting me, for loving my family, for offering me your basement to live in, or your pool to swim in, cheering on MY kids at sporting events, sewing on a baseball patch, helping me remember what I was trying to say, and praying for me.  Thank you for trusting me with your secrets, for letting me love you, and for encouraging me when I need it.  You are amazing, and my life is so RICH despite everything going on right now because of all of you.  If good friends could be measured in wealth I would surely be on Forbes' Top Ten Richest Women list every year.  

Please don't be offended if your picture isn't listed.  You all know who you are.  <3 p="">

4) I am also thankful for the opportunity to be a Scentsy Consultant.  I know it sounds kind of corny, but to be able to be a part of something that is run by some of the most GENEROUS and GENUINE people I have ever met is nothing short of amazing.  Being a part of the Scentsy Family has given me a spark to hold on to.  The teacher market is ROUGH right now, I've applied for umpteen jobs already and even with fifteen years experience have only gotten "thanks for applying" emails.  It's frustrating, and discouraging, especially when I know that (I even took a test that said so)  I am a good teacher.  So having the opportunity to earn school clothes money, and hopefully some Christmas money, and maybe even another free vacation next summer fills me with hope.  Who knows, one of these days I might be on stage talking about when MY husband got laid off and I just decided to jump in with both feet and make things happen, and how with hard work and dedication we finally managed to buy our dream farm house and have a donkey in the back yard.  (Have I mentioned that we are a family that is easily amused?)  Thank you Scentsy for the opportunity to turn things around.  Look for me on stage next year.  ;)

So while I am in yet another discouraging situation I find that because of my many blessings, I am able to meet the day with a smile, carry on, fan the flames of hope, and look for the signs that better things are coming.  While our life could be looked at as a nightmare by some, I can't imagine it being any better.  Unless of course I won the lotto, that would be better, and of course my offer of class trips to Disney World, and mommy make overs on a tropical island are ON like Donkey Kong.  

To quote one of my my idols..."The stakes are high, the water's rough...this love is ours"  Thank you for loving me.  I am truly blessed beyond measure.

God is good.  All the time.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

So Much to Say...

This school year has kept me jumping.  Through hoops, through flames, through trials and tribulations that I never had imagined would come to pass, and now it's coming to an end.

Normally at this time of year I am excited to see the end of the school year in sight, but this year every day that ticks off the calendar marks a "last event" for me, and it's earth shattering, poignant, and heart breaking all at the same time.

My school district has merged with another, and I have found myself on the "maybe" list for being rehired.  While I had mentally prepared myself for the fall out of being union president, I wasn't prepared emotionally.  Even a little bit.  I am pretty sure my heart, and quite possibly my spirit is irreparably broken.

I had been warned that the being laid off process is similar to the stages of grief, and in fact I have found that if is not just LIKE grief... it IS grief.

It comes in waves, breath taking, suffocating, tear inducing weights on my being.  I've lost weight (usually a good thing), I can't sleep, or concentrate.  I find myself constantly doubting myself.  My abilities to teach, to inspire, to lead.  I find myself sitting in my car every morning sometimes fighting tears, and sometimes letting them flow freely while silently willing myself to enter the building where I imagined myself retiring in order to finish out this school year.  My doctor offered to put me on stress induced medical leave.  I declined, because in that district, in that building, in room 4 are twenty five children who depend on me.  I encourage my students to be brave, to take risks, and to keep trying even when things are hard.  What kind of teacher would I be if I abandoned them with only a couple weeks of the school year left?  I can't do it.   Leader sets the pace, at least that is what they told me back when I waited tables...a skill I hope is like riding a bicycle, as I may need it very soon.

I compose myself, enter the school and wait for my students to meet me at our "waiting spot".  I am greeted with hugs, and notes, and pictures, from my own students, and wayward souls that have figured out I have a soft spot for any child that needs someone to love them.  None of them know that I will not be back in the fall.  I have families registering for kindergarten next year stop by my room to tell me that they have requested my class, and I am forced to explain (while trying desperately not to cry) that I don't know if I will have a job in the district next year, while a voice in my head pipes up "Now they are going to wonder WHY you are not highly qualified enough to have a job."  I fight back the demons, paste a smile back on my face, and carry on.

As we count the days of school, and I remind the students that it seems like not long ago we were counting UP to the 100th day of school party, my heart wrenches as I realize I may not have a 100th day of school party next year.  There won't be a "Mean Mrs. Thompson" counting challenge, or caterpillars to watch, or Alpha Friends to introduce while singing and dancing.  I marvel over the progress my students have made this year, and worry about those that are struggling.  I set up meetings with parents who's children are off their academic schedule, and find myself explaining again, that I do not know if I will have a job in the district, much less at Perry, so no, I can not have their child in my class next fall.  I paste on a smile and tell them that I am sure everything will work out, when that voice in my head pipes up again, "Now they probably think it's YOUR fault their child isn't at grade aren't good enough."

I look at my cape, hanging on my desk, a reminder that I am a superhero in my classroom, or at least that is what it's supposed to do.  Right now it just taunts me.  My maybe letter is Kriptonite, rendering me powerless, confused, and weak.

I am gearing up to pack up my room.  Room 4, that I love with an intensity that in indescribable.  My room.  My happy place, where Alpha Friend dances were born, where children learned colors, numbers, counting, reading, and writing.  Where children laughed, cried, and learned to follow the rules, take chances, and trust.  I think I will be giving a lot of stuff away...

I listen to those who tell me, "Everything will work out," and I think, "Well that is easy for you to say, you HAVE a job!"   I listen, I pray, I hope... but I am not sure what it is that I am praying or hoping for...  I think I have to listen a little harder.

We will complete our journey in room 4, together.   I will give more hugs, more high fives, more smiles, more warning looks, move clips, enjoy the laughter, tape up crayon pictures, and kindergarten spelling love note, settle disagreements, confide that I once peed my pants in kindergarten too, sing, dance, finish assessing, write heartfelt comments on report cards, and file CA-60 paperwork,  Perhaps these moments will be a little more sweet because they mark the ending of a journey.  I'll try very hard not to cry, but I do that a lot lately.  If I do find myself in tears, I will wipe them away and tell my class that I am crying because I am so proud of how AWESOME they are.  (I've had to use that one a few times, and they totally believe it)  I will do all these things because my amazing, sweet, talented, funny, creative students, a class full of many colored crayons, is depending on me.  In their eyes, I am good enough, and I guess when it comes right down to it, that is really all that matters.

A friend posted on my Facebook wall that sometimes when things fall apart, it's so that better things can come together.  I am not sure what is better than room 4, but I sure hope it makes itself apparent soon.

God is good.  All the time.